SAN FRANCISCO, July 26 (UPI) -- The Lutheran Church has reinstated seven gay and transgender California pastors who had been barred from the denomination for 20 years, one of the pastors said.
The pastors, from the Bay area, were reinstated into the national Lutheran Church Sunday, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"We finally got to the direction we knew the Lutheran church was heading. It just took it longer to get there," Rev. Jeff Johnson said in an article the paper published Monday.
The reinstatement came about a year after the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's national assembly voted to let gay men and women serve as clergy. The church had expelled two San Francisco churches, First United, and St. Francis, for violating its policies.
Previously gay men and women were allowed to become Lutheran pastors only if they took a vow of celibacy, the paper reported.
Johnson said the old policy "ruined lives, destroyed faiths." Johnson, a gay man, was one of the seven pastors to be reinstated.